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Disney Food for Families: It’s a World of Candy

Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster and her daughters toured World Showcase with an eye for candy!

You’ve probably heard of the Drink-Around-The-World activity where you and some strong-stomached companions visit each country at Epcot’s World Showcase and partake of a signature adult beverage in every land. Sounds good to me too, but unfortunately that’s not going to work when your touring partners are a couple of 11-year-old girls.

When my twin daughters, Josie and Louisa, and I were recently faced with an afternoon at Epcot and a two-hour wait for Soarin’, we decided to do what any good Disney foodie would do: eat. Specifically we decided to undertake the G-rated version of country crawl: Candy-Around-The-World.

World Showcase

We set up a few rules for ourselves:

  • We had to buy and sample a candy in each Epcot country. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. :-)
  • The candy had to be as native as possible.
  • When in doubt, get a recommendation from a cast member from the represented country.

And off we went to create an international sugar coma. When we started our trek, we happened to be near the Germany pavilion. I’m sure that the intense sugar aroma drifting out of the Karamell Kuche played no small role in the development of our plan.

Germany

The German shops sell a number of authentic European treats including German Hachez cocoa bars and Reber Mozartkugeln, as well as the not-so-German Ferrero Duplo sweets, Toblerone bars, and the expatriot Chinese giant gummi bears.

Reber Mozartkugeln

But since we were already in the Karamell-Küche, which sells products from the Germany-based Werther caramel company, we decided to start where we stood.

My daughter Louisa grabbed a bag of chocolate Riesen. Yummy, but we all agreed that there was a disconnect between the mellow chocolate taste of the candy and the overwhelming burnt-sugar smell in the shop, so we decided to also pick up a package of Werther’s original caramels. About the size of a Halloween Tootsie roll, these little bites of pull-out-your-fillings goodness got us moving in the right direction.

Italy

The Italy pavilion is the land of Perugina, with by-the-piece, bar, and bagged candy purchase opportunities. I wanted to go for the sophisticated Torroncini that sophisticated cast member Sophia from Rome recommended, but my girls were less than thrilled with pictures of the nuts on the bag.

Torroncini

Baci by the piece

My daughter Josie made the call to get the Perugina raspberry-filled bar. I have to admit that she made a nice choice, the fruit/chocolate pairing was a pleasant balance of sweet and acidic.

Perugina raspberry

American Adventure

The American pavilion was a disappointment from a candy perspective. Instead of featuring any of the numerous American nostalgic or regional specialty candies (read more about this in Steve Almond’s Candyfreak), or even selling sweets from an indigenous candy behemoth like Hershey or Mars (neither of which seem to have marketing partnerships with the Disney parks), the American pavilion only sold Disney-branded candies, all of which were available in many other locations throughout the parks.

Candy in America

We asked cast member Robert from Florida which candy he would recommend, and he said to us, “How would I know what you want.” While this sounds like a brush-off, he was actually quite polite. I think this was his way of saying packaged candy is packaged candy, it’s all just sugar.

Ultimately Louisa chose the Chocolatears Milk Chocolate Malt Balls. She liked them, but I’m not a malt person. I found them sour and grainy, but that’s the way I feel about all malt, so don’t go by my impression.

In my recent quest to think of types of food service places Disney is missing, I feel like there’s a big void where an old-fashioned penny candy shop should be. Not glitzy and primary-colored like Goofy’s Candy Co. or even tiled, proper Main Street Confectionery, but more authentic, wood-paneled, sawdust-on-the-floor Chutter General Store. I know it would be a pain to maintain, but if you were 8 years old, wouldn’t that just stay in your memory forever? Maybe that whole Magic Kingdom, Frontierland, Country Bear Jamboree area shop system should be gutted in favor of a candy-intensive general store. But I digress …

UPDATE: Check out the new American Adventure candy!

Japan

Buying candy in Japan was a much more satisfying experience than in America. The entire back room of the pavilion’s Mitsukoshi Department store is devoted to actual Japanese treats: the near-florescent colors and Anime-esque packaging draws you to nearly every package. Even if you don’t know what it is, you know you want to eat it.

Beautifully packaged Japanese candies

Over the years, I’ve tried many of the Japan pavilion sweets. I have particularly enjoyed lemony suckers; the Japanese seem to understand that sour can be accomplished in a way that’s not annihilate-your-taste-buds astringent.

But on this trip, Louisa chose Chelsea (shown in the first photo above), because the pictures on the bag seemed to indicate that this was a caramel-type confection, and she wanted to compare it to the Werther’s we had earlier. The Chelsea turned out to be a trio of tastes: a generally sweet milk flavor, coffee flavor, and caramel. These were hard candies, not chewy like the German ones. We all preferred the Werther’s caramel flavor to Chelsea, with its more pronounced sweetness and less overt butter aftertaste, but nonetheless we kept the Chelsea bag for later snacking.

I like the roulette aspect of buying candy in Japan. In any of the Epcot countries, if you don’t read the language, you may not be 100% sure what’s in the box, but you can often piece the meaning together using English cognates. With the kanji alphabet, I’m flying blind.

Morocco

After our success in Japan, we were back to disappointment in Morocco. I’d be generous in calling the non-restaurant food offering here sparse. There simply were no options. Cast member Kamal pointed us to the Halva, a dense, sesame paste sweet. My girls had previously tried Halva after my mother-in-law brought it back from a trip to Israel, and were less than favorably impressed.

Packaged food in Morocco - not many options

Rather than walk away empty handed. We chose to buy the only other sweet: Tiffany Cream Wafers. These would be considered an American cookie, very much in the same family as the Nabisco Sugar Wafer. They’re not bad in concept, but the first bite does have a bit of cardboard feel to it. Not anyone’s favorite.

France

Then on to France, where they have a much firmer grasp on the concept of confection. Again, like in Italy, there were individual, bar, and multi-serving candy options.

French candy by the piece

With the embarrassment of sugary riches before them, Josie and Louisa began to squabble about which candy to choose. I ceded the selection to cast member Pierre from Paris. He handed us an assortment box of chocolate squares from Maxim’s. I like the way Pierre thinks!

Maxim's de Paris

United Kingdom

Moving on to the UK, we encountered the wonders of Cadbury, as well as AJ’s favorite Rowntree Fruit Gums.

In the UK, Cadbury reigns supreme

Here too, the girls were devolving into sucrose-buzz bicker and we ended up letting lovely cast member Anne give us her vice of choice: Cadbury Orange. We loved the little faux citrus slices. As with the raspberry-filled chocolate in Italy, the Orange was a balanced blend of sweet/tart.

Cast member favorite

Sweet segments

I must confess that we also grabbed a few Cadbury Flakes to bring home. The girls like to crumble them up and sprinkle them on ice cream. Um, me too.

Canada

The Canadian candy options were strikingly similar to those in the UK. Lots of Cadbury, with some Disney-branded options and, inexplicably, Swedish fish thrown in. I’m not sure what exactly we were looking for in terms of native Canadian flavor. Maple sugar treats? When I got home, I actually Googled “Canadian Candy” to see if the pavilion was missing out on some fabulous sweets-from-the-North sales opportunity.

Basically what I found was that the Canadian favorites are British imports. I suppose this is not surprising given the country’s history, but the overlap was striking given our quick hop from one nation to the other.

Canadians Brittney and Jennifer helped us out by recommending the Wunderbar: “A Peanut Butter Caramel Experience! C’est Carachidebile!” Seeing that tagline in French made us feel better about the Canada pavilion’s selections. Clearly they were ready to serve their Québécois contingent.

Wunderbar!

Louisa loved the Wunderbar and wanted to devour the whole thing, but I was starting to fear that the bad-mother police would be after me at any moment due to the undoubtedly near-toxic levels of sugar that were coursing through her veins. I had to take it away from her and nibble on it for a while myself.

Mexico

My first reaction to the Mexico pavilion’s candy selection was — Jose Cuervo filled chocolates? Si, Si, Ole! But then I thought that maybe adding liquor to my now hyperglycemic childrens’ diets might really be a step too far.

Tequila candy

We wandered over to the festive baskets filled with Lisy brand treats: Paleta de Elote con Chile, Banderitas, Obleas de Cajeta, and Limoncito; as well as Yummy Earth brand Organic Hot Chili Pops. Because we couldn’t decide and my willpower had gone the way of El Rio del Tiempo, we chose two: the Paleta de Elote and the Organic Hot Chili Pops.

Chili Corn Pops

Nice for the adult palate

Although we’ll all eat spicy Mexican food, the Paleta de Elote was too much pure firepower to entice any of us. The girls were also not fond of the Hot Chili Pops. However, I liked them quite a lot — the spice was counter balanced with the softness of sugar in a way that the other pops were not. And I could also see myself using one to stir one of those fancy margaritas sold next door at La Cava del Tequila. Mmmmm!

Norway

Norway was another country that seemed to have a candy cultural identity problem. Interspersed with the Norwegian salty licorice were Swedish fish and Swedish Daim candy, which is my secret Ikea-visit vice. I know that Sweden and Norway are neighbors, but that doesn’t make their food interchangeable does it? Despite my concerns about Norway’s identity crisis, I immediately snagged a Daim, because we didn’t have an Ikea visit on the horizon and they are just. so. good.

This is Norway?

For our official candy selection, cast member Elsa tried to steer us toward the licorice coins. I’m sure they’re wonderful if you grew up on them, but I had tried this on a previous Epcot visit and nearly gagged on the intense anise. Not for me.

I wanted to give the Firklover a go, but the girls were still in a no-nuts mood. Instead we opted for the chocolate Stratos. The package includes the line “lett, luftig og poros.” This means “light, airy, and porous” and that about says it all. (I also later discovered that though Firklover sounds vaguely illicit in English, the word just means “clover leaf.”)

Chocolate with hazelnuts

China

The last stop on our worldwide sucrose slog was China. While there were a few sweets displayed here, we found nothing like the bounty in Japan and the European countries, just a small table of novelty items that were “made in China” rather than being actually Chinese.

Chinese novelties?

The one candy item we found that actually had some indication of real Chinese origin was Nin Jion Tangerine Lemon Herbal Candy, which we found nestled in a tea display.

The Nin Jion tin contained about a dozen individually wrapped hard candies that to our American palates seemed highly medicinal. The closest equivalent flavor I can think of is herbal Sucrets. I needed a big swig of Beverly to kill the taste.

Follow Up

While I don’t think we’ll be attempting the international candy quest again any time soon (I don’t think either my teeth or my tummy could take it), this was a really entertaining way to spend an afternoon.

The girls learned some cultural lessons — like why all the Canadian candy seems British — and they improved their negotiation skills by lobbying for the purchase of their selection. On second thought, maybe we’ll go for pastry around the world next time.

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38 Comments

  1. Howard says:

    I always felt Canada should sell Mackintosh Toffee. I used to get all the time growing up in Buffalo, but it’s really hard to come by these days. I miss it!!!

  2. Heather says:

    Next time you’re in the UK pavilion, try those AERO bars, so YUMMY! We like the chocolate mint one.

  3. Andy says:

    I’m Canadian and, yup, my first thought when I saw the UK photo was, “…Huh. That looks like the selection at a normal corner store.” Though I suppose there really should have been some maple candies like http://www.themaplestore.com/images/C616.jpg or http://img76.imageshack.us/img76/1281/320oz20maple20sugar20cacn1.jpg .

    Also, hello! I’ve been stalking this blog for a few days now, but this is my first comment!

  4. Jen says:

    In the Japan pavillian, there’s an English translation (very rough) of what’s in the package including nutritional info. You don’t need to play “roulette”. Canada has maple sugar candy in the far back corner of the store, usually in a barrel.

  5. Heather says:

    Such a terrific idea!!! Really enjoyed reading what you discoverd!

  6. Silvercat says:

    Can I just point out that the chocolate orange bar you bought in the UK is made by Terry’s, and is not directly known as a Cadbury product? Although as both Terry’s and Cadbury are now owned by Kraft Foods, this may be a moot point!

    Your picture of the Cadbury products was also a tad amusing – the Aero bars are made by Nestle, Ripples are Galaxy, Turkish Delight is made by Fry’s, and Toffee Crisp is also made by Nestle – so not much in your picture is actually a Cadbury product!

    Not being picky, just being British – sorry!! :-)

  7. Janna says:

    What a yummy way to start my day!

    I have contemplated this with my boys but my picky son’s pickiness extends to candy (he only eats chocolate – Hershey’s) and my non-picky son is only picky about candy (again, Hershey’s chocolate).

    You did give me an idea of where to at least try something new with them (Canada, UK, France, Italy). Thanks!

  8. Angela says:

    Yum! What a fun idea! I’ve done it with snacks, but not specifically candy.

    Funny there was NO maple candy in Canada… not that we eat that all that much here (I never see it in the grocery stores), but that’s what is sold in all the tourist gift shops and is for sure very Canadian (or at least what americans tend to think is Canadian! :D ). Funny you mention Cadbury though, I had a student from New Zealand live with me for a few months recently and she brought “typical NZ candy” for us to try, and it was all Cadbury haha. We did notice there there were differences and she had Cadbury stuff we didn’t, we had stuff she didn’t, and we both had types that weren’t found in the UK (all Cadbury). Other than that its some of the same stuff from the US- mars, snickers, reeces, etc.

    Oh, and she thought it was very strange that french was written on every single label (its law, french and english on everything, not just in Quebec) and I don’t even notice it, I’m so used to it being there haha

  9. Angela says:

    Oh and silvercat, the Turkish Delight sold here is by Cadbury… in fact, Cadbury owns Fry, but it doesn’t even say Fry on the label here in Canada (or NZ as it turns out), it has a huge Cadbury on the front :)

  10. Yes, but do you still have your teeth?:) Now, where did I put that Kit-Kat bar…..

  11. canadianslovewdw says:

    i got a tooth ache just reading this.. i am dissapointed by the selection from Canada. they should have some maple sugar candy. or some other regional stuff.. but they dont… or maybe some ketchup chips, i dont think they are available in the US, on another note .. they should not be allowed to have a Canadian Pavilion with out TIM HORTONS coffee…

  12. Diane_N says:

    What a fun alternative to the classic “drink around the world” excursion! We hit the candy store at Japan on almost every trip and the Karamel Kuche is a new favorite, but we haven’t tried the candy in many of the other pavilions yet. We’ll have to branch out a little next time we’re in the park. :)

    At the end of the day, which would you say is your favorite pavilion for candy now?

  13. Sarah says:

    The Yummy Earth Organic Hot Chili Pops are fantastic! I keep a bag handy at my desk for an occasional quick mid-afternoon pick me up.

  14. John Grigas says:

    Wow, we just got back on Saturday . . . I so wish that I saw this post a week ago! What a fun idea! Now we have something on the bucket list for next trip . . .

  15. Christa says:

    I LOVE Aero bars. Mmmmm.

  16. Griffin says:

    We have tried this in the past, only to be stopped at one country! The problem for us was that we started out in Japan, and to us, it was all downhill after that :P I can’t wait to get back to Japan for some more Milky taffys…Or anything else for that matter :) Also, I have had the Terry’s oranges from our local grocery shop before, they are pretty good!

  17. Carrie says:

    We’ve also done this as a souvenir for others. You can assemble a really colorful gift basket of candy from around the World Showcase that makes a great thank-you gift for the pet sitter!

  18. AJ says:

    I love the idea of a giant penny-candy general store in MK!!!!! This is my “blueprint” from my childhood: Calef’s General Store

  19. EEFoster says:

    Howard – I’ve never had those toffees, I’ll have to keep an eye out for them next time I head north.

    Heather – Aero bars are on my to-do list!

    Silvercat – So sorry to misrepresent the Brits. The photo here doesn’t show all the candy options in the UK pavilion, many of them are Cadbury, but you’re right to point out that not all of them are. Also, I didn’t investigate on this trip – but I want to check whether the candy sold at the pavilion is actually imported from the UK rather than being the US version of a UK brand. After reading an article in NY Times about the superiority of English chocolate, I’m interested to do a side-by-side comparison. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/11/dining/11cand.html

    Janna – I understand the picky-eater syndrome. Good luck expanding your sons’ horizons.

    Angela – I didn’t realize the candy cross-over in New Zealand. Thanks for the info.

    Deej – I think AJ must have had some ESP going when she decided to run this article this morning. I truly was at the dentist having my teeth cleaned today when I read your comment.

    Canadians – I’m all for adding Tim Horton’s to the Canada pavilion!!

    Diane – Interesting question. I’ll always love Japan for candy. Even though I now live about two miles from an Asian market that sells many Japanese sweets, I still find unique items at Epcot. Germany is also a favorite. Not only to they have all the new caramel items, but they still have classic chocolate in the other shop. Personally, I also liked Mexico because it seemed more authentic than some of the others.

    Sarah – Those were a real find. They’re relatively low in calories too – which was an unexpected bonus.

    John – You always need a reason to go back!

    Christa – OK, another vote for Aero. I’m sold.

    Griffin – Japan is pretty hard to beat. Try starting in Morocco and you’ll have much better luck moving along.

    Carrie – LOVE this idea! Can’t wait to share it with others. Thanks for the tip.

  20. EEFoster says:

    AJ – Calef’s should send some of their maple products to the Canada pavilion :-)

  21. Lisa says:

    Commonly-eaten Canadian candy is very similar to the UK and US stuff. (Maple sugar candy is generally only found in tourist traps…no one I know actually eats it regularly. I do know lots of people, myself included, that eat Swedish Fish regularly, though.)

    Candy that would have been good to see there?
    - Kinder Surprise Eggs (if they let them in…some people have had them confiscated at US customs lately)
    - Smarties (like US plain M&Ms)
    - Crispy Crunch (kind of like a Butterfinger, sort of)
    - Caramilk (chocolate bar with liquid caramel inside)
    - Coffee Crisp (coffee-flavoured chocolate bar)
    - McIntosh Toffee Bars (hard toffee)
    - Coke products (made with actual sugar)
    - Mountain Dew (it’s all caffeine-free)
    - weird flavours of potato chips (ketchup, dill pickle, bacon, bbq chicken, etc.)
    - Tim Hortons (of course!)

  22. stacey says:

    What a WONDERFUL idea!

  23. Carrol says:

    Are you sure the Cadbury chocolate bars were imported from England. They do make them here in Canada under the Cadbury name. The chocolate is very different. I prefer the English chocolate to the Canadian chocolate.

  24. Denlo says:

    LOL, I liked the concept but wondered how soon the sugar over kill would occur. I was impressed that your 11 yr old twins were willing to try a variety of unknown candies. Thanks for the interesting review. And I’m looking forward to a pastry review next time.

  25. Angie says:

    While I could see that eating all this in one go would probably make you sick or give your kids one heck of a sugar rush, there’s something you could do: Make a kind of gift basket to give to someone at home as a souvenir, or just as your own take home gift. I think that is what I will do next time!

  26. Kelly says:

    How fun! I love the gift basket idea!! Also would be fun to keep small bags handy for a treat when we get “homesick” for WDW.

  27. I enjoy the selection in the UK and Japan best myself! :) Thanks for sharing your journey! :)

  28. canada68 says:

    My favourite candy at Epcot used to be sold in Norway- it was bags of sugar coated gummy ‘men’ called ‘Laban Seigmenn Gummi’- I actually bought the last bag they had on our trip to WDW last year- I have been since and they no longer sell them :( They were naturally coloured and flavoured- totally yummy and addictive- you could really tell each individual fruit flavour (unlike some candies that just taste sweet)… anyone else enjoy these in the past? (or maybe they are selling them again?). I’m Canadian and I love maple sugar candies- they are not just for tourists! Love your blogs Erin! :)

  29. Andrea says:

    Blog post about pastry-around-the-world? Yes, Please! What a wonderful post. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I may have to try this on our next visit. Except we may save our purchases to enjoy a home at a later date (it’s all about bringing the magic home) =)

  30. Heather says:

    Oohh! Pastry around the world sounds yummy indeed! This would have made me bounce off the walls and then get incredibly sick!

  31. Joshua says:

    I found a point-based system at the Party Through The Parks website that seems to work well. You get points for snacks, meals, drinks, rides, etc in each country.

  32. Erin Foster says:

    Joshua – I had never heard of Party Through the Parks and just checked it out. Such a fun site! Thanks for the heads up.

  33. James (Disneynorth) says:

    I echo Lisa’s suggestions. But the one thing that hasn’t been mentioned for the Canadian pavilion…. Beaver Tails!! I know, not Candy, but still uniquely Canadian.

  34. Carolina says:

    First of all, I’m mexican and we don’t say “Olé!” xDD

    Second, was that all in the mexican pavillion?
    If so, I’m quiet disappointed! I’ve never heard of those pops you mention and it seems like a lot of traditional candies are missing. It makes me feel like next time I go I should bring tons of candy and give it away! lol

    I could see so many mexican candy companies making a deal with Disney to sell their stuff in the pavillion, it makes me wonder why they’re not there! d:

  35. Krista McIntosh says:

    From Canada here, and I totally agree! Maple, candy and Tim Horton’s should DEFINITELY be sold at the pav. We are from the Atlantic province of New Brunswick and when we spoke to the lovely Canadians working at the pavillion I asked what there was to represent us. Nothing. Basically. lol So, I suggest a few things to Disney, if you are reading. PEI is notorious for it’s Anne of Green Gables chocolates. Chocolate covered Chips. Newfoundland has many fabulous cultural treats, but to keep it simple, a moose pooping candy would by my choice. ;) Nova Scotia has fabulous apple snacks, and Blueberry I am sure. As for NB (and all of the maritimes) we are greatly known for our Lobster and maple. Lobster suckers are widly sold locally. Just saying, spice it up, we are full of fun and comicaly things. just ask and we will tell ya! ;) Can’t wait to try all the other coutries’ candies!!!
    OH!! LAST NOTE, we have something called Smarties. Chocolate covered snacks. Our rockets are the US’s smarties.

  36. Erin, this is just great! Last year I created a version of this, the Epcot Candy Tour Challenge, for my column. But you’ve included the mouth-watering pictures, and I can see my version needs some updates. (Next trip, next trip!) Morocco has always been one of my biggest disappointments.

    What I love best about such articles is the many suggestions from readers, including must-try candies to sample at Disney or in my other travels. The comments here really make the whole thing that much more fun! (I also loved the idea of making a gift basket to take home or as a customized gift for a loved one.)

    And I can’t see what you do with pastry round the world!

  37. Sarah Brown says:

    Smarties are a British product (Rowntree’s originally I think) – I’m surprised there are none in the UK pavilion.

  38. Cleo says:

    Actually, there are many traditional Chinese candies in the Japanese section. Oh, well. Did you know that Chinese invented the hard candies and the taffys we enjoy to this day. Rolling hard candy and then cutting it so there is a picture in the middle is a Chinese invention.

    I guess there are no White Rabbit milk taffy candies the origin of tootsie rolls and Riesen chocolates at the China store. I grew up on those and crunchy sesame seed candies.

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